Name a ship that sank – if this question is asked, then I presume most of the people would answer Titanic instantly. There have been many technologies adopted to prevent ships from sinking. However, lately it’s been reported that some researchers in Europe are making new airbags that will save ships from sinking.
The new airbags that European researchers are trying to make is called Surfacing System for Ship Recovery (SuSy). The researchers have mentioned that the airbags will inflate within 15 seconds of the accident and stabilize the vessel, giving both crew and passengers more time to evacuate.
The airbags are balloons reinforced with a synthetic fibre known as Kevlar and can be installed in the ballast water tanks or between the double hulls of the vessel. The balloons contain special cartridges made out of KNO3 (potassium nitrate), epoxy resin and rust that explode to inflate the balloons quickly.
The working principle of these airbags have been presented in this way – When initiated, the gunpowder oxidises the resin, which then puffs into the balloons to quickly inflate them—the rust aids the explosion process. A second cartridge containing compressed air helps to cool the explosion so that it doesn’t pose a risk to inflammable cargo.
The SuSy can also be used to lift sunken ships and could prevent major disasters, including oil spills.